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Victorian Biography ReconsideredA Study of Nineteenth-Century 'Hidden' Lives$
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Juliette Atkinson

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199572137

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199572137.001.0001

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‘Forgotten Benefactors’: The Dictionary of National Biography

‘Forgotten Benefactors’: The Dictionary of National Biography

(p.216) 7 ‘Forgotten Benefactors’: The Dictionary of National Biography
Victorian Biography Reconsidered

Juliette Atkinson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The final chapter considers the crowning achievement of Victorian biography: the Dictionary of National Biography. The chapter stresses the divergent biographical interests of the DNB's editors, Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, which help to account for the way in which the dictionary unites the two different strands of Victorian biography: the celebration of ‘great lives’ and the homage paid to ‘hidden’ ones. Leslie Stephen pleaded for the inclusion of ‘forgotten benefactors’ by demonstrating their artistic potential and by arguing that the grateful acknowledgement of hidden labour benefits the nation. He was also motivated by a desire to pay homage to the hidden labour of men of letters, which makes the DNB yet another Victorian attempt to demonstrate the worth of its neglected or unappreciated writers.

Keywords:   DNB, Stephen, Lee, forgotten benefactors, hidden labour, men of letters

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